Get cozy at home with your loved ones this holiday!
How to create a magnificent holiday grazing platter in 6 easy steps.
Chances are, none of us will be hosting a large group over the holidays this year. But that doesn’t mean that holiday entertaining in 2020 can’t be special. There’s a lot less pressure to set up a large dining table and feed a house full of people. Instead, take advantage of the circumstances and put together a smaller, spectacular spread to enjoy with those closest to you.
Serve holiday appetizers and snacks on a grazing board platter
Forget the big fancy table spread—a well put-together grazing board looks simply amazing, and it offers a more casual, yet intimate way of serving a holiday meal. Slow down the pace and take the time to choose different foods and enjoy relaxed conversation. Grazing boards are an easy way to offer a feast of so many delicious options that your family won’t know where to start.
Think of it as a decorative, deluxe version of a charcuterie board. Here are some simple steps to help you put one together and share a brunch or light evening meal with a small circle of those you love. Just because it’s a no-fuss holiday doesn’t mean it has to be a no-frills holiday.
Start by getting on board
When it comes to grazing boards, you can use almost anything in any shape or size. It’s best to make your grazing board out of a food-friendly surface but be creative and if you aren’t sure, just cover it with parchment paper before layering the food on top.
What turns into a great grazing board? You can go with a large solid chopping board in wood or marble, a long serving tray or even a baking sheet. If one isn’t big enough, double down and put two side by side. You can even stack 2 different shaped boards or use a smaller platter in the center of a larger one to create some height and visual appeal. Trust us—once it’s covered in delicious bite-sized food, the effect will look stunning.
Make it artistic…and delicious
Once you choose your surface, make a list of the items you want to put on your board. Cheeses are a great idea to start with, and of course, your favorite Cuisine Adventures appetizers! You’ll want to combine these with delightful dips, sauces and little additions like olives, nuts, cut-up vegetables, fruit slices and a selection of breads and crackers.
The idea is to lay everything out artistically so it looks like an art-directed spread from a gourmet magazine. It has to be as pleasing to the eye as it is to the taste buds. Start with some small containers—ramekins, small bowls, even shot-glasses or fancy tea cups—anything small enough to keep sauces from being messy. Make it fun and creative by coordinating colors and themes.
Then add a little height to the landscape by arranging some breadsticks in a Mason jar or using small bowls with stems. Add a beautiful artistic touch to the presentation and serve food in clear glass bowls or colorful ceramic containers. Even if you’re using store-bought sauces, dress them up by serving them in an attractive dish or fancy container with a small spoon on the side for easy serving. Why not use toothpicks or cocktail forks for the smaller appetizers? And don’t forget the napkins. Lots of napkins.
Build a holiday grazing platter in 6 easy steps
Now that you have collected each component of your artistic creation, it’s time to start building. Remember you can use plates as place holders on the board for items that will be served warm because you’ll be adding these foods at the last minute.
- Begin by arranging the platters first with some elements of décor that fit with the theme you have chosen. Now set out the smaller bowls for dips, sauces and smaller items like olives. If you’re using a larger board, you can position two bowls containing the same item at opposite ends to make it easier to reach. You’ll want to choose at least four or five items that will fit into the smaller bowls to balance out the other items on the board and add a variety of texture, shape and color.
- Next, place the largest items on your platter. This will most likely be the cheeses. Serve two or three or even four varieties including a hard cheese like an old Cheddar, a soft cheese like a Brie and a spreadable cheese or any combination of cheese you prefer.
- Now for the stars of the show! Bite-sized foods like our mouth-watering appetizers are a great choice for a grazing board. Put out the mini quiches, spanakopita, franks in a blanket, firecrackers, spinach artichoke parmesan bites, charcuterie and whatever else you like! If a dipping sauce is meant to team up with an item, then place that item near it. If you have many different items, you don’t need a large quantity of each. The idea here is just to pick and choose a lot of different things. The more variety, the greater the appetite appeal for the eyes.
- Follow up by add veggies, grapes or other fresh fruits for splashes of color and to tie everything together. If you’re using grapes or cherry tomatoes, keeping them whole and on the vine makes for a spectacular visual presentation. Avoid using apple slices that will turn brown and look unappealing.
- If your platter is large enough, add the bread and crackers. It’s ideal to choose a sturdier cracker for a thicker dip so the cracker doesn’t break off mid-dip. Likewise, if you have a spreadable cheese, serve a bread robust enough not to tear. You’ll want to include a selection of breads, biscuits and crackers to the presentation. Not enough room on the platter? Don’t worry. You can serve these on a separate platter or basket next to your grazing board.
- At this point, if you spot any gaps in your arrangement, add some small ideas to fill up the holes and make the board look full. Choose small tasty treats like nuts, herbs and pretzels. If you have a sweet tooth, add raisins, dried cranberries or apricots. Mixing sweet and savory flavors on the same board can create delicious flavor combinations like contrasting colors in a beautiful picture.
Your grazing board is complete and it looks spectacular! Don’t stop there. Set the table as you normally would for a big holiday affair. Add some festive napkins and a decorative tablecloth. Why not go all out? After all, it is for you and your closest family members.
Getting together over good food during the holidays is a blessing. As we cram the year with hectic schedules and crowded timetables, we forget to take a breath and enjoy spending quiet moments with the people who matter most. Small cozy meals together can make a bigger impact than large festive parties. This holiday season, take a moment to be thankful for everything you have and stay safe.
HAPPY HOLIDAYS !
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